It’s hard to believe, especially knowing what we now know about Tom Hanks, but Bosom Buddies managed to eke out only two seasons on TV before being canceled in 1982. Its final episode, “Cablevision,” ran on May 27, 1982, less than two years after the show premiered.

ABC brought back the show in reruns in 1984 after the success of the movies Splash and Bachelor Party, but the Hanks train had already left the station, and Bosom Buddies would remain just a beloved memory for a star rising through Hollywood.

Envisioned as a sort of madcap male version of Laverne & Shirley, Bosom Buddies was created by Robert L. Boyett, Thomas L. Miller and Chris Thompson of Miller-Milkis-Boyett Productions. The pair originally pitched the show to ABC as a sophisticated Billy Wilder-type comedy, referencing Some Like It Hot. ABC heard that, thinking, “Well, that means men will be in women’s clothing,” and bought it provided that would be the case. Miller and Boyett have since said they left the pitch meeting confounded, telling the Miami Herald, “What are we gonna do? We have to do something in drag.”

And they did! Starring a poufy-haired Hanks as Kip Wilson and Peter Scolari as Henry Desmond, Bosom Buddies was born, like so many sitcoms, on a rather farcical premise. After their apartment was demolished while they slept inside, Kip and Henry set out in search of another affordable rental. Their friend Amy (Wendie Jo Sperber) tells them about Susan B. Anthony Hotel, which has rooms but — uh-oh! — also just happens to be female-only. Kip and Henry balk, but after Kip falls for hotel resident Sonny (Donna Dixon), the two decide to don bad, Tootsie-style drag and rent an apartment, somehow fooling every single resident, manager and visitor to the hotel.

Watch the Intro to 'Bosom Buddies'

Kip and Henry, the "brothers" of "Buffy" (Hanks) and "Hildegard" (Scolari), would sometimes visit the hotel, between days working for Ruth (Holland Taylor) at the busy Manhattan advertising firm Livingston, Gentry & Mishkin. The guys are great at their jobs, but Ruth often takes credit for their work, and in Season Two, Kip, Henry and Amy strike out on their own to start a firm, Sixty Seconds Street. Ruth, though, still somehow manages to hang around as a kind of silent partner.

Watch a Scene From 'Bosom Buddies'

One reason for the Season Two shake-up could be because the show was faltering. While the first season’s ratings had been OK, a strike by the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists meant Bosom Buddies’ season was abbreviated. When it came back, ABC simply couldn’t find the right slot for it, meaning it bounced from day to day and time to time, a curse that a show couldn’t recover from at the time.

By the time Bosom Buddies’ second season aired, the show had also mostly abandoned its original premise, outing Kip and Henry as not, in fact, actually being women. They’re somehow allowed to continue to live at the hotel, and Sonny forgives Kip for lying to her.

The series pivoted back to its original buddy-comedy premise, with Hanks and Scolari often relying on their chemistry and improv to create genuinely funny moments.

Watch a Scene From 'Bosom Buddies'

There’s some disagreement about which episode of Bosom Buddies aired last. Some sources say it was “Not the Last Picture Show,” intended to be the Season Two finale, which found Henry and Kip imagining what life would be like as senior citizens. More die-hard Bosom scholars claim it was actually “Cablevision,” an episode planned to run earlier that got bumped to the end of the run, sort of like a make-up baseball game. In “Cablevision,” Kip and Henry try to land an important client for their agency by creating a cable-access variety show, somehow managing to enlist the services of Penny Marshall.

Watch a Scene From 'Bosom Buddies'

There are a few bittersweet bits of trivia that go along with Bosom Buddies, some of which came out after the death of Peter Scolari in October 2021. Hanks went on Jimmy Kimmel Live! to talk about his longtime friend, fighting back tears as he described their relationship.

“I don’t know how many people truly do change your lives when you cross paths with them,” he said.  “But he and I met, we picked up the scripts and we started screwing around, and I thought, ‘Oh, this is it. This is how this works. This is like a hand inside a glove.'"

Watch Tom Hanks Remember Peter Scolari

Another fun Bosom bit involves Paul Rudd, who teamed up with Adam Scott to create a shot-for-shot remake of the opening credits for Adult Swim's The Greatest Event in Television History in 2014. Rudd plays Kip, while Scott plays Henry, and both Hanks and Scolari make cameo appearances. The farce even enlisted Billy Joel to play “My Life” during the credits, even though the original show used a version by another artist.

Watch Paul Rudd and Adam Scott in 'Bosom Buddies' Parody

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